Home Institution

Middlebury College

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

Samoa: Pacific Communities and Social Change


This paper examines Samoan indigenous religion and the relationship between Samoans and the environment before and after the introduction of Christianity. It looks at how Christian beliefs and the cultural perspectives of European missionaries affected Samoa’s environment. It then considers Samoan indigenous religious values that may be helpful to combat current environmental problems. Primary and secondary sources were used, including interviews with both theologians and environmentalists. Samoan indigenous religion promoted a sustainable relationship with the land but Christianity and the cultural lens through which it was delivered had negative environmental effects. Samoa retains a deep environmental knowledge in the memories of its people, but acknowledging the Samoan indigenous religious concepts causes apprehension for many Samoan Christians. Only time will tell if Samoan Christianity will choose to again incorporate Samoan indigenous religious values and revitalize a relationship based on kinship with and respect for the natural world in order to move more constructively towards the future of Samoa and its environment.


Comparative Methodologies and Theories | Demography, Population, and Ecology | Family, Life Course, and Society | Missions and World Christianity | Religion | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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